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Opinion: Seeing clearly

Videoconferencing is advancing medical training globally, says Dr. Wilko Grolman, Professor of Otolaryngology, and president of the LION Foundation

The potential for the continual evolution of technology in medicine has to improve people’s health and quality of life is tremendous. One exciting development advancing the medical industry is high-quality, real-time videoconferencing. This has revolutionised everyday tasks, helping healthcare professionals deliver the best possible care and enabling them to share their expertise with colleagues and trainees. The work of Dr. Robert Vincent at the Causse Ear Clinic in France is a prime example.

Causse and effect
The Causse Ear Clinic was founded in 1950 and is renowned for its expertise in Otorhinolaryngology – ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgery. During ear surgery (otologic surgery), surgeons operate in some of the smallest and most confined spaces in the human body. Optical stereoscopic zoom is achieved by a microscope, but others involved in the surgery (nurses, trainees and other professionals) also need to see what’s happening. This is not possible without a high-quality video feed. Poor picture quality means less precision and less detail for all involved, and lowers the chances of deriving educational benefit from a perfect procedure.

Display fidelity isn’t only critical to work in-theatre. The Causse Clinic is one of the founding members of the LION Foundation. This organisation links otology (middle-ear) surgery professionals from around the world in an eLearning (telemedicine) network to improve research, training and patient end results. Isolation can be the enemy when it comes to learning medicine, so we ask specialist clinics to broadcast procedures, sometimes weekly, to universities across the world, free of charge. 

We also deliver a LION Congress three times a year, covering a total of six full days, as a collaborative educational event for ENT surgery. The May 2019 LION event had 24 participating surgical centres and had thousands of people watching the live stream powered by the Global Telemedicine Studios.

To make all of this happen, clinics need technology that can combine the highest possible display quality with lecture-appropriate audio. Moreover, it must also allow for multimedia collaboration to combine informational material with a live feed that demonstrates medical techniques and procedures. 

“Medical collaboration and learning don’t require specialist medical technology but do require specialist audiovisual solutions”

Picture perfect
Medical collaboration and learning don’t require specialist medical technology but do require specialist audiovisual solutions. Applying these to a medical setting allows LION Foundation members to elevate their educational offering, as well as guarantee the best possible viewing for the surgeons watching colleagues’ surgical procedures.

The Causse Ear Clinic has invested in Poly AV solutions among others. While the prime use of the G7500 from Poly is in medium-to-large conference rooms, it can be readily applied in a variety of industries, including the medical field.  

UHD 4K video resolution allows surgeons and eLearning participants to see extremely precise visuals of microstructures. At the same time, conference-quality audio guarantees clear instructions and communication from the surgeon. This makes a huge difference in terms of exposing other medical professionals, often on the other side of the world to their specialist techniques.

Additional features of the G7500 ensure that no ideas get lost during virtual teaching. Anyone can share wirelessly, annotate and capture content for later use. Noise cancellation eliminates background sounds and conversations within the theatre so the surgeon can be heard clearly.

The LION foundation also personally tested the Poly G7500 and found the quality to be astounding, with the resolution drawing out the finest of details in surgery. This standard sets the bar for all future LION Foundation broadcasts and is set to be even more exceptional when specific surgical hardware (microscopes and endoscopes) also have 4K capabilities.  

Such technology enables the same quality of training to everyone – whether that student is in the room or joining from any location on earth. Everyone can experience the surgery first-hand and feel like they are there in the operating room. It’s truly revolutionary for the medical professionals who may one day themselves be performing these procedures and can learn how to complete minute and technical surgeries in such detail.